Granny Han’s Pengcheng Special Education School is a not-for-profit, school for children with special needs in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, has become known in China for its unusual ability to made a difference in the lives and even in the I.Q. of severely mentally challenged children. The school provides an education to children with an average I.Q. of 22.14 usually excluded from enrollment to special education schools for the mentally retarded. Due to the school’s unique teaching methods, the students are employed after graduation. Ms. Han Ru Fen, a retired teacher, established the school in April 1, 1989, after being unable to find a school that would take her grandson, since his I.Q. was below 50. For more than 15 years Granny Han was forced to work in dilapidated buildings and had to move her school at least 10 times before a school was built in 2004 with the help of UNESCO. So, the school has grown from 5 students on the streets to now more than 130 students, 50 girls and 80 are boys.
Many former students including Granny Han’s grandson, now have jobs and support themselves. Children who once could not talk or wash themselves are learning to read and attain skills for independent living. Granny Han’s innovative teaching style and attention to the individual needs of each student have helped the children make great progress.
Many of the kids cannot even pay one penny for board and lodging and school tuition because their parents are disabled, mentally disabled, laid off or deceased. Some of the parents have only part time menial jobs such as washing or mending clothes, construction work, washing dishes, etc. The average income per month is 500 to 1,000 yuan and most of them are unemployed. Some of these children were street children, orphans, left in garbage rooms, sexually abused, tied up at home, deserted by both parents and left to one grandparent.
Granny Han and her team of dedicated teachers continue to transform the lives and futures of the intellectually disabled kids. The teachers are paid a mere salary of 1,500 yuan (U.S. $238.00) and their work is repetitive and exhausting, but the joy of seeing the progress of each child has been most rewarding.
Each year the school is seeking donors and creating innovative income generating projects (such as knitted scarves, hats and gloves, Chinese papercut art work, Christmas ornaments, cards, beading necklaces, embroidery, silk flowers, Chinese painting, etc.) to defray the cost of the teachers’ salaries and social benefits, food, medicine, medical emergencies, facilities management and logistical support and maintenance of the school.
How you can help? A check payable can be made through the Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation, a qualified public non-profit charity, 501(c)3 with an accompanying letter giving clear instructions that the funds are earmarked to Granny Han’s Pengcheng Special Education project, Xuzhou, China. Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation will not assess a fee for processing a gift to the project.
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